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Commissioner candidates talk taxes, trails, recycling at forum

Candidates for McLeod County commissioner expressed their views and opinions at a forum sponsored by the Greater Minnesota Republican Women Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Candidates included incumbent Paul Wright and Rob Raiche, running in District 3; incumbent Ron Shimanski, running unopposed in District 1; and, in District 4, Jeff Nies and Rich Pohlmeier, who both filed for candidacy, and write-in candidate Ane Fitzgerald.
The forum started with each candidate having a couple of minutes to introduce themselves:
• Wright — An eight-year incumbent, Wright is a lifelong resident of McLeod County and farms south of Hutchinson. Wright said he became involved in county issues first in 1997 as the county considered a feedlot ordinance, and later was asked to serve on the Solid Waste Advisory Committee, board of adjustment and the fairgrounds committee. He ran for commissioner after the previous commissioner, Grant Knutson, retired.
Wright said his goal is to make McLeod County a place  a great place for people to live and raise their families.
• Raiche — A Marine Corps veteran who saw combat in Iraq, Raiche said he and his wife moved to McLeod County for its quality of life and relatively low cost of living. Raiche, a businessman, said he has noticed “a disturbing trend of wasteful spending and an overall lack of true representation of all people in McLeod County.” He said that was why he threw his hat in the ring.
• Shimanski — Shimanski also is a lifelong resident of the county, residing on the family farm near Silver Lake, where he maintains an apple orchard. Shimanski said he has been involved in politics for the past 10 years, running for the state legislature after then representative Scott Newman chose to seek another position.
• Pohlmeier — A resident of Brownton, Pohlmeier said he is a nearly lifelong resident of the county, having moved here with his family as an infant. He grew up on a farm in Hassan Valley, attended Hutchinson High School and is currently self-employed. He served on the Biscay City Council for six years, and has been a sports official for 35 years.
“I’ve learned how to listen, how to observe, and how to take the incidental things out of the equation when making a decision,” said Pohlmeier.
• Fitzgerald — Fitzgerald and her husband purchased the Mabel Brelje farm on the Lake Marion road, northeast of Brownton, where they grow organic crops. A licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as an ordained minister, Fitzgerald said she can bring a unique perspective to helping with workplace issues and facilitating decisions in McLeod County.
• Nies — Nies is the son of current commissioner Sheldon Nies, who will retire at the end of his term.
Nies said he has dedicated his life to service, as a paramedic, firefighter, and director of emergency services.
He also said he is not a clone of his father.
“There are some things that I would vote on the way he would, and some things not,” said Nies. “The big thing is to listen to all sides and decide what is best for the county.”
A wide variety of topics were brought to the forum, including:

For more from the forum, see the Sept. 28 print edition of The Chronicle.